Deuteronomy 1:7-8(NKJV) 7Turn and take your journey, and go to the mountains of the Amorites, to all the neighboring places in the plain, in the mountains and in the lowland, in the South and on the seacoast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the River Euphrates. 8See, I have set the land before you; go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—to give to them and their descendants after them.’
This week we have been studying the end of Israel’s journey from bondage in Egypt to blessing in Canaan. We have discovered that it was the will of God for Israel to possess the land of Canaan. We have also emphasized the role of faithfulness in possessing anything in the kingdom of God. Without faithfulness, we will not endure what it takes to possess our land.
We have also discovered that there are parallels between Israel’s possession of their “Promised Land” and our possession of our “land of promises.” All the promises of God are “yes and amen” in Christ Jesus. That means they belong to us, just as Canaan belonged to the people of God. They had inherited Canaan when God made covenant with Abraham. However, when the time for the fulfillment of their inheritance came, it was up to them to go to Canaan and take possession of it. We must do the same with the promises of God.
Today, I want to look more closely at what it means to possess something. When we understand the word and the process, we are more equipped to take the necessary action. The first thing I like to do is look at definitions. We often assume we know the meaning of words, but we usually have only a limited understanding of them. First, let us define “possess.”
The English definition of posses is to “have as belonging to one; have as property; to own.” I remember when I bought my first home. Up to that point in my family’s life, we had lived in rented houses. By the time we bought our first house, we had six children. We had young children the whole time we lived in those rented houses.
Although we certainly made those houses into our home, we did not own them. I do not know how many of you have young children, but if you do, you know that crayons and walls do not go well together. That is unless you are a young child. In that case, a blank wall is a canvas begging for an artist. My children tended to be prolific artists.
When you have more than one little one at a time “coloring” is one of the activities that can produce a few moments of peace and quiet in the household. Unfortunately, when you have more than one you cannot watch all of them all the time. As you are enjoying the quiet while the toddler colors in his coloring book and you are busy with the baby, you will eventually hear those fateful words. “Mommy (or in my case Daddy), look what I drawed!”
You know that this is not good, but he sounds so pleased with himself. You go into the next room and there is a masterpiece covering as much space as the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. You are first moved with pride. He will be the next Michelangelo. Then you remember that these are rented walls. “What have you done? How many times have I told you not to draw on the walls!”
Now I do not want my children to draw on walls that I own either, but at least they are my walls. When you do not possess the house, you do not own the walls. Israel was not supposed to “rent” the promise land. They were commanded to take ownership of it. Once I bought a house, if I wanted to let my children draw on the walls it was my business and no one else’s. They were my walls and I was the one in control of what happened to them.
When we bought the house, we had a closing. At the closing, the house became legally ours. However, we still had to “take possession” of that house. We packed up a truck with all of our belongings, went to the physical location of the house and began putting our stuff in it. Whatever the other people left behind was ours at that point. They could come and ask for it, but legally it was ours.
If the former owners were still there when we came to take possession, we would have the right to forcibly remove them. The house was no longer theirs and we were “taking possession” of it. Once we had our “stuff” in the house, had our beds put up, and began cooking dinner, then we were in possession of the house.
That is exactly what Israel had to do with the Promised Land. There were other residents living there, but God had given it to them. It was their responsibility to displace the former residents and move into the land God had promised them. God did not ask them to do it alone. He promised to go before them and help them, but he told them to take possession.
When Israel arrived at the Promised Land, they were faced with a flooded Jordan River. The first city they had to take possession of was Jericho. It was formidable. We know that God certainly went before them and helped them take Jericho. He gave them a plan that resulted in the walls supernaturally coming down. However, that would not have happened if they had not crossed the Jordan River. To cross the Jordan, they had to set foot into the flooded river. Only then did the waters part.
If they had never taken the step of faith to put their toes in the water, God would not have brought down the walls of Jericho. They had to do their part by faith for God to do his part. His part is always the hard part. Once the walls were down, they had to continue to act in faith. They had to go into the ruined city and kill everyone there. That sounds harsh, but it is really a lesson for us.
We have wonderful promises from the Lord. 2 Peter 1:4 calls them “great and precious promises.” They are our inheritance. They belong to us. However, we must take possession of them. How do we do that? We do it the same way the Israelites did. We receive our inheritance. That is what got Israel as far as Jordan. However, we still must go in and possess the land. We do that by acting on those promises.
We cannot do God’s part, but we can do ours. We cannot heal the sick, but we can lay hands on them. We cannot create money when we have none, but we can give what we have and believe that God will give back to us. We cannot save anyone, but we can speak the word of testimony. When we do our part, we actively possess whatever promise we have received as true.
Once we see God begin to move it is up to us to continue acting in faith until we see the promise fully possessed. Israel had to destroy everything in that city. Once they had done that, there was nothing left to keep them from moving on to the next city. We must make sure that there is nothing left in our lives to keep us from fully possessing the promise of God. We do that by continuing to act on the Word.
Look at your faith life. Are there some promises that you are believing God to fulfill for you? What can you do to possess them? Can you give something? Can you pray for someone? Can you step out in faith in some way? Do your part. Do what you can. Soon you will be in possession of the promise. You will be able to move in and start to live in the blessing God has given you by his Word.